TheCavaliers overcame an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit and a career-high 40 points from D'Angelo Russell to prevail 125-120 over the Lakers on Sunday night in Los Angeles.
Russell dazzled, shooting 14 of 22 from the floor (7 of 12 from 3-point range) and adding six assists, but Irving shined brighter in a classic battle of point guards.
Irving dropped a season-high 47 points on 15 of 21 shooting (6 of 10 from deep), and his 25-foot 3-pointer with just over four minutes left in the game gave the Cavs their first lead of the fourth quarter.
Irving, of course, had more help than Russell did, as his two star teammates contributed excellent performances of their own. LeBron James had 34 points, seven assists and six rebounds; Kevin Love, in his second game since a 13-game absence with a knee injury, had 21 points and 15 rebounds.
The 101 points Irving, James and Love combined for marks a Cavaliers franchise record for a trio.
The Lakers took the loss despite playing about as well as could be expected. They shot 52.9 percent from the field and turned the ball over a season-low six times.
This was a game Cleveland had to have —not necessarily for standings sake, although their lead over the Celtics for first place in the East certainly isn’t insurmountable; more so to save face, considering the unpopular decision to rest their three starsin Saturday night’s nationally-televised game against the Clippers.
Stud of the night
Damian Lillard dropped a season-high 49 points as he carried the Trail Blazers to a 115-104 win at Miami. He was remarkably efficient, making 14 of 21 shots, including 9 of 12 from 3-point range.
Lillard, an All-Star Game snub, has been one of the best players in the NBA since the break. His 29.8 points per game since then are surpassed only by Russell Westbrook’s 34.5, per CBS Sports. Portland (32-37) is 9-4 during that span.
Lillard on Sunday also became the first player in Blazers history to make 1,000 3-pointers.
Dud of the night
While Lillard went off, Goran Dragic floundered. The Slovenian point guard shot a paltry 6 of 22 from the floor, missed all but one of seven 3-point attempts and logged just three assists to two turnovers in the Heat’s loss at home.
Among 76ers forward Dario Saric’s four assists against the Celtics was this no-look gem to Richaun Holmes.
Saric also had a team-high 23 points, six assists and two steals to lead Philadelphia to a 105-99 home win.
Warriors (55-14) at Thunder (40-29), 8 p.m. ET, TNT —Kevin Durant will be in the building, as he’s traveling with the Warriorsfor the first time since he injured his knee Feb. 28, but he won’t be playing against his former mates. Still, we’re sure some OKC fans will be donning their cupcake/KowarD T-shirts.
More importantly, Golden State needs to start winning games while Durant mends. They’re on an uncharacteristic 5-5 run and have the Spurs threatening to overtake the top spot in the West.
In sixth place in the conference, the Thunder still have plenty of work to do as well.